On Friday 30th November, FBU members handed the final portion of the 10,000+ signatures they and their supporters have collected against proposed cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service in West Yorkshire. As well as handing out FBU flyers at a number of events, Leeds Socialist Party have collected around 500 signatures opposing the cuts on stalls in the city centre and Headingley.
Iain Dalton, Leeds North West Socialist Party
The cuts proposals follow on from some passed by the fire authority last year. In total there will be 11 less fire stations, 19 less fire engines and over 300 less firefighters in West Yorkshire if the cuts are implemented. Senior officials in the fire service have admitted that people could die as a result of these cuts, and even the former chair of the Fire Authority has come out in opposition to the proposals.
The campaign so far has seen a hundreds strong march through Leeds City Centre in November, and well attended public meetings in places such as Marsden and Howarth where fire stations are facing closures, which given that they are both on the edge of West Yorkshire could see much increased response times. Activists from across West Yorkshire have distributed leaflets produced by the FBU outlining the sheer brutality of these cuts.
This is all being put through by a Labour controlled Fire Authority, which have rejected appeals by the FBU to put forward a joint case outlining the need to fully fund the fire service. This gives an inkling of what a Labour governments attitude would be towards cuts elsewhere in public services and underscores further the need for a new workers party armed with a socialist programme that puts forward an alternative to cuts.
Although it is sometime until the next local elections, we would encourage anti-cuts activists to consider standing against those Labour councillors who vote for the cuts, preferrably under the banner of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coaliton.
The next step will be a protest outside the next meeting of the Fire Authority on November 21st in Birkenshaw which Socialist Party members from across West Yorkshire will be building for.